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The Re-view. Award-winning concert hall project in Italy's "ghost town"

30 of May '22

Mateusz Baranowski and Maja Stankowska from Wroclaw University of Technology won the Grand Prize in the international competition Resonate, organized by the UNI platform. The task was to design a semi-open concert hall in the abandoned Italian town of Craco. The competition drew attention to so-called "ghost towns" and was an attempt to bring life back to Craco by combining architecture with music.

The goal of the Resonatecompetition was to design a building that would fit into the melancholy character of the abandoned town, encourage reflection on local history, and provide a space conducive to hosting musical events.

Sala koncertowa mogłaby ożywić opuszczone miasteczko

Concert hall could revitalize abandoned town

© Mateusz Baranowski, Maja Stankowska

Italy's Craco, in the province of Matera, is a so-called "ghost town," or abandoned town, once bustling with life, but now "haunted" by ruins, empty buildings and remnants of former infrastructure. Craco was plagued for years by numerous earthquakes, which contributed to its gradual degradation and depopulation. Now, due to its nostalgic atmosphere and architectural qualities, the hilltop town is gaining renewed popularity among tourists.

Budynek miałby powstać w Carco

building would be built in Craco

© Mateusz Baranowski, Maja Stankowska

The organizers were looking for designs for a semi-open concert hall, designed to seat five hundred people, designed using local materials and set in the context of its surroundings. Participants could use the structure of Craco, but could not interfere with or transform its architecture.

First prize for Polish students - a story about the city

The jury of the Resonate competition decided to award the Grand Prize to The Re-view project by Mateusz Baranowski and Maja Stankowska. The UNI Platform Prize was also awarded, it went to the Craco Concert Hall project.

Our intention was to create a building that would establish a coherent relationship with the landscape, and also merge with the ruins of the surrounding urban fabric. It was important to us that audiences coming to musical performances experience a continuous contact with the ruins of the city growing out of the hill," the authors explain.

Rzut parteru sali koncertowej

first floor plan of the concert hall

© Mateusz Baranowski, Maja Stankowska

The award-winning building design is a kind of story about Craco. It engages in a dialogue with the historic architecture of the city through the appropriate choice of materials and architectural elements, and allows admiring the area from different heights and perspectives. The authors also wanted the building to find a wide audience and be able to function all year round. Therefore, they supplemented the functional program with additional spaces in the form of a restaurant, a terrace and a viewing tower.

Reference to local architecture and its reinterpretation

The proposed building is characterized by a rather simple mass consisting of two offset horizontal cuboids cut by a vertical wedge. According to the architects, this is a kind of reference to local architecture. The vertical traffic riser refers to the surrounding towers, while not overwhelming the surroundings with its height.

What is unusual, however, is the location of the stage and auditorium.

Widownia skierowana jest w stronę miasteczka

The auditorium faces the town

© Mateusz Baranowski, Maja Stankowska

In our project we reinterpreted the form of the amphitheater. We departed from the traditional placement of the auditorium on the hillside - we directed it towards the township, while the stage was partially recessed into the terrain. In this way we achieved an unconventional inversion, which, despite its unusual appearance, ultimately achieves a symbiosis with the surroundings," the competition winners explain.

The Craco panorama thus becomes a natural setting for organized events, including music concerts and theater shows. In addition, the authors suggested that the existing arcade, located just behind the designed building, could be adapted as additional stage niches for musicians.

Taras widokowy znajduje się na pierwszym piętrze

The viewing terrace is located on the second floor

© Mateusz Baranowski, Maja Stankowska

concert hall in the ruins

The main entrance to the building, highlighted by a representative arch, is located in an alcove left by a building that no longer exists, located in the eastern part of the plot. The architects also placed ticket offices and administrative rooms there. Meanwhile, in the western part, separated from the eastern part by a staircase, they designed a restaurant with a view of the upland area, kitchen facilities and restrooms. A staircase located in the center of the building leads spectators to the second floor, with a covered viewing terrace they can use during the antecedents. Here there are also exits to the stage, facilities for artists and stage staff, and restrooms.

Rzut pierwszego piętra sali koncertowej

projection of the second floor - viewing terrace, restrooms and facilities for artists

© Mateusz Baranowski, Maja Stankowska

The second floor is an uncovered terrace with direct access to the auditorium.

We designed it with an innovative system that allows multifunctional use of the concert hall. During concerts, the auditorium will be pulled out, while during dance events it will be folded down, providing more space for dancing, the young architects add.

platform for cultural events

The building refers both in material and form to indigenous architecture. It was made of stone sourced from the area, so it harmonizes with the existing buildings. The façade, meanwhile, is formed by arcaded windows, which, combined with stone and wood, create a modern variation on the theme of local architecture.

Podczas koncertów widownia jest wysuwana, natomiast podczas wydarzeń tanecznych składana

During concerts, the auditorium is pulled out, while during dance events it is folded down

© Mateusz Baranowski, Maja Stankowska

The facility we designed creates a platform for local cultural events, transforms the city's lost ruins into a picturesque scenography and revitalizes abandoned walls. It creates spaces that will attract the attention of tourists and the local community alike, provides a vantage point for viewing the city's impressive historical heritage, and allows you to feel the unique atmosphere during outdoor concerts," conclude Maja and Mateusz.

Also read about other competition projects involving the Italian province of Matera. A concert hall in the ruins of a church in the town of Grottole, by Julia Giżewska and Jakub Jopek, and the Museum of Culture in Matera designed by Marta Stachurska.

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